CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt expects wheat production of around 9.475 million tonnes this season if good weather conditions continue, the state news agency quoted Agriculture Minister Salah Abdel Momen as saying on Monday.
Abdel Momen added that Egypt needed 9 million tonnes of wheat to guarantee production of the cheapest form of subsidised bread that is sold for less than 1 U.S. cent per loaf.
Egypt harvested 8.69 million tonnes of wheat in summer 2012, up 4 percent from the 8.37 million tonnes in 2011, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Egypt has endured more than two years of political and economic instability, making it harder for the country to arrange payment for wheat imports. Its pace of purchases has slowed since the start of the year.
The country's strategic stocks of wheat, both imported and local, have fallen to 2.207 million tonnes, enough to last 89 days, a cabinet report said last week. This compares to 2.292 million tonnes, or 95 days' cover, reported on February 27.
International traders say that even with a brighter harvest outlook, the country will need to buy further significant amounts to maintain minimum stock levels prior to its harvest being ready for consumption.
Food supply is a politically-sensitive issue in Egypt, where rising food prices are being passed on to struggling consumers and shortages have provoked unrest in the past.